CAMBRIDGE, UKA recent demonstration from ip.access and AlertMe.com showed how femtocells can be integrated into smart-home energy-management solutions. With femtocell integration, the AlertMe Energy service can automatically detect when the house is empty and power down lights, televisions, and other home appliances. The service also can switch the services back on when the resident returns home.

For the demo, ip.access combined the AlertMe Energy service with its own femtocell technology. The solution works by allowing electrical appliances to switch on and off automatically in response to the presence or absence of mobile phones in the home. This "presence" information, which is routinely gathered by the femtocell, is normally only used to route cell-phone traffic and set tariffs.

In the demonstration, however, the AlertMe integration enables the presence information to be used to set light and power preferences, which are activated automatically when a subscriber arrives at home. Preset electrical outlets also can switch off automatically to save energy a few minutes after the last person has left the house.

The demonstration shows how supplementary service codes on the phone can be personalized through the femtocell when the phone is at home. For example, the phone can be used to remotely switch appliances on and off.

"One automatic trigger could be to switch the kettle on as soon as you arrive home," says Dr. Andy Tiller, Vice President Marketing at ip.access. "But there is more to this than just tea and convenience. Using a femtocell to personalize supplementary service codes is a new and unique idea. It enables the mobile phone to become a powerful controller for all kinds of applications in the home. And because it's a network-enabled feature, it works with any handset. There are no applications to install."

According to AlertMe.com Founder Pilgrim Beart, "The mobile phone is increasingly the remote-control for your life. Most people carry their handset everywhere they go, making it an ideal control device for the AlertMe Energy service."

The demo also shows how the AlertMe Hub (the central device that receives instructions via the Internet and controls the electrical plugs in the home) can be integrated inside a femtocell access point. It will then rely on the femtocell for power and its Internet connection. In this way, a mobile operator could offer a smart-home energy-management solution as an integrated option to its femtocell subscribers.

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